Rep. Sharice Davids faces a stiff challenge in her bid to keep her 3rd congressional district seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, which covers Johnson County.
While Davids defeated her opponent — Republican Amanda Adkins — by a margin of over 40,000 votes in 2020, the composition of her home district has drastically changed and now leans more Republican.
In what critics called blatant gerrymandering, the GOP-controlled legislature redrew the district last session to include more rural Miami, Franklin and Anderson counties and remove more ethnically diverse parts of Wyandotte County north of Interstate 70 into the Republican-leaning 2nd district.
For KCUR’s daily news podcast Kansas City Today, Brian Ellison recently spoke with both Sharice Davids and Amanda Adkins about their priorities ahead of the Nov. 8 election.
Here is his conversation with Rep. Sharice Davids about campaigning in a changing district, lowering every day costs for Kansas families, and the effect of Kansas’ recent vote on abortion rights.
This interview has been edited for clarity.
KCUR interview with Rep. Sharice Davids
Ellison: What do you see as the key issues that should decide this race in the minds of the voters?
Sharice Davids: The things I’m hearing about the most from folks are issues around what I’ll call lowering costs for folks. I think a lot of people are just feeling really kind of squeezed right now because of either inflation or supply chain issues. Coming out of the pandemic has led a lot of people to really see just how tightly squeezed they are.
The other thing that I would say, because of the recent Supreme Court ruling, are issues around access to reproductive healthcare. I’m pushing against extreme policies that would lead people to have politicians making their healthcare decisions for them.
Would you want to see more of the same financial policy directions or would you want to see something different?
Sharice Davids: I’ve been very, very focused on lowering costs. My mom raised me and my brothers by herself. I grew up seeing what it looks like to have to navigate a really tight budget. I’ve been looking at ways to enact policies and push for legislation like the recent Inflation Reduction Act.
We were able to cap the cost of insulin for folks who were on Medicare at $35 a month. We’re looking at ways to fix our supply chains so that we’re making more domestically.
I think we can make a lot of stuff here in Kansas. That’s things like semiconductors and medical supplies. I’m gonna continue to push for things that are just like common sense tools that the federal government can use to help lower costs for folks. Particularly for when stuff’s really hard.
I’ve been pushing for a suspension of the federal gas tax. There are definitely things that I would encourage folks to look at and see some of the work that I’ve gotten the chance to do for Kansas.
Are you concerned about the budget deficit?
Sharice Davids: I have certainly, in my time in the house, been a big proponent of making sure that we’re being as fiscally responsible as we can be. Which I think, again, is probably part of growing up seeing what it looks like to really have to manage your budget. The Inflation Reduction Act actually does make a 300 billion payment on the national debt, which will, in the long term, help us reduce some of those inflationary pressures.
It also helps with the capping of prescription drug costs, including insulin, but we’re also gonna see that Medicare’s gonna be able to negotiate prescription drug prices. That will not only save folks who are on Medicare money, but it also saves the overall taxpayer money.
With the vote on the constitutional amendment, is abortion something that should be dealt with at the state level or is this an important issue for you in Congress?
Sharice Davids: After Roe got overturned, I think it’s important to think about the impact that it had on people, almost immediately, here in Kansas. We were watching as our neighboring states were enacting or attempting to enact very extreme pieces of legislation. Because of where we’re at, right on the state line here, we saw it much more up close and personal. People were just scared and their lives were upended. Without Roe a lot of people just acutely felt that lack of protection for their rights.
I think it’s up to each individual voter how much of a priority they’re gonna put on it. I do think people should know where I’m at. People should know where Adkins is at on this. I have fought to make sure that people have the ability to make their own decisions with their doctor and not have a politician making a decision for them around what are very difficult decisions. My opponent not only supported the most recent amendment, but also was chair of the Republican Party when they were pushing for an extreme ban on abortion, without exception for rape or incest.
If you are reelected, will you change how you represent your district in light of its changing composition?
Sharice Davids: I wouldn’t call it a change in the way that I represent the district. I think it definitely changes some of the specific things that I get a chance to work on. It will for sure take work for me to meet as many people as possible. I’ve been going out and visiting with folks in Miami County and Anderson County and Franklin County, because those are all new counties to the district.
I think it’s gonna require me to learn a lot about some new areas and sectors like agriculture. It also means that I’m gonna get the chance to help bring resources back to the Kansas 3rd. Whether that’s on infrastructure or small business or the ag committee, I’m gonna continue to do that.
We are gonna do everything we can to make sure that we’re continuing to offer constituent services. Folks sometimes have a hard time navigating things like social security or disability or Medicare. We want to continue to offer quality constituent services to help folks navigate that.
This interview with Rep. Sharice Davids originally aired on the KCUR podcast “Kansas City Today.”
KCUR 89.3 is Kansas City’s NPR affiliate public radio station. You can read and listen to more of their reporting at kcur.org.